A white police officer has been found guilty in the murder of Laquan McDonald, a black Chicago teenager who was fatally shot in 2014.
The jury of eight women and four men announced the verdict Friday afternoon, one day after they began deliberating.
Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm; however, he was found not guilty of official misconduct. The Chicago officer initially faced charges of first-degree murder, aggravated battery, and official misconduct.
The deadly shooting took place October 2014, when officers responded to a report of someone breaking into vehicles. It was at that time law enforcement encountered 17-year-old McDonald, who was wielding a 3-inch knife. After ignoring officers’ repeated to demands to drop the blade, McDonald used the weapon to damage a patrol car. A Chicago PD officer who was equipped with a Taser was called to the scene; however, Van Dyke ended up shooting McDonald 16 times before the officer arrived.
Van Dyke initially claimed he opened fire because the teen had raised the knife in an aggressive manner. The officer told investigators he feared for his life and continued to shoot the teenager because he believed there was still a threat.
Dashcam footage that was released about a year later did not support Van Dyke’s account. Instead, the video showed McDonald walking away from the officers before he was gunned down.
The graphic footage sparked nationwide protests. City of Chicago officials say they’re preparing for more demonstrations following Friday’s verdict, as Van Dyke was convicted of a lesser charge.
Three other Chicago officers are facing charges for conspiring to cover for Van Dyke. Former Det. David March, former officer Joseph Walsh, and officer Thomas Gaffney are scheduled to stand trial Nov. 26.